UK to remove 500 pieces of EU legislation in 2024, leaving thousands still on the books by 2026

Wed 24 Jan 2024
Posted by: Phil Adnett
Trade News

According to a Parliamentary report published yesterday (22 January), the government will revoke or reform around 500 pieces of retained EU legislation in 2024, leaving thousands of remaining on the statute books for the next two years.

The report, which covered the efforts of the government to retain or replace EU laws from June to December of last year, set out the plans for 2024.

These included a reform to the UK clinical trials legislation and a change to rail, freight and air transportation rules that would both remove obsolete legislation and remove certain parts of assimilated law that are seen as “overly prescriptive” by industry.

“While much has been achieved, there is still much to do” business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch said in the report’s foreword.

Thousands remain

However, this would leave still thousands of pieces of retained EU law remaining on the statute book.

A dashboard maintained by the government showed that slightly less than a third (32.99%) of retained legislation had been amended, repealed or replaced, leaving 4524 pieces of EU legislation still in effect.

The dashboard predicts that there would be 4500 pieces of retained legislation still in force by 2026.

The largest department represented in the figures is DEFRA with 1930 remaining pieces of legislation, followed by the Department for Transport and the Treasury.

Warning on divergence

Analysis from the Guardian showed that “vital” protections for health and the environment were being destroyed in the post-Brexit changes, with business and environmental groups warning on “regulatory divergence” between the EU and UK as a result of the efforts to remove European laws from the statute book.

The paper said that data from the Institute for European Environmental Policy showed that the UK and EU were diverging in over a dozen policy areas.

These included carbon emissions, compensation for those struggling to complete the transition to the green transition and chemicals and pesticides legislation.

Industry insiders warned the Guardian that they feared businesses would struggle to continue to import goods to Europe due to these regulatory divergences.

No ‘bonfire’

Previous attempts to repeal EU laws in their entirety by the end of 2023 were scaled back, as business groups and trade unions warned of regulatory uncertainty.

The original plan would have automatically deleted EU laws from the UK statute book if they had not been reviewed, but was changed after industry pressure.

Badenoch, who came under pressure from Conservative MPs for the partial stepdown, defended the change by saying this was not a “bonfire of regulations”, and that her view was that “we want to do is get rid of laws we don’t want and there's a process for that.”